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Scholten Japanese Art Gallery
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Paul Binnie, Governess Masaoka

Nakamura Utaemon V as Masaoka by Shin'ei, ca. 1920s view print

Paul Binnie, Scottish, b. 1967

The Governess Masaoka

kappazuri (stencil) print on gold-leaf paper, hand-signed in red pigment Binnie, and numbered jushichi (17) out of an edition of approximately 20, with red date seal Heisei nanane (Heisei 7 [1995])

obaiban tate-e 25 by 18 3/8 in., 63.4 by 46.6 cm

This composition depicts Masaoka, the heroic nurse of the infant prince from the play Meiboku Sendai hagi (The Disputed Succession). Masaoka is largely responsible for foiling an attempted coup, led by the wicked Nikki Danjo. She allows her own son Senmatsu to eat poisoned cakes that Lady Yoshio (one of the coup plotters) had meant for the prince, and subsequently watches as Lady Yashio murders the child before the poison could take effect and reveal her treachery. Masaoka exacts revenge on the plotters, killing Lady Yashio and stealing a scroll which lists everyone involved in the coup. Her strength of character is reflected in this composition. Binnie affords the nurse a sense of regality, with her strong posture and the composition's golden background. The print admirably reflects the heroism that her character displayed on stage.

Arendie and Henk Herwig, Heroes of the Kabuki Stage, 2004, pp. 243-249 (re: play)
Paul Binnie: A Dialogue with the Past - The First 100 Japanese Prints, 2007, p. 74, no. 32